Posts Tagged ‘AAA Approved Auto Repair’

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA advises drivers to save $50 per month for car care fund

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 4, 2017) – According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating that some drivers may underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500 and $600, AAA urges drivers to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses, and identify a trusted repair facility before trouble strikes.

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“The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “To avoid a surprise down the road, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.”

Although an average repair bill can set a driver back up to $600, the cost can soar higher when a vehicle has been poorly maintained. A previous AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs, which increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to roadside breakdown. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

“Anticipating your vehicle’s needs before problems strike is important,” continued Nielsen. “While it may seem that skipping maintenance and repairs can save money in the short term, staying on top of car care can save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run.”  

Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
  • Identify a repair shop you trust. A recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to find a trusted repair facility. Visit com/autorepair to locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.

If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.

The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/autorepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ellen Edmonds Contact TileSeventy percent of U.S. drivers at risk for costly, dangerous rust damage

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2017) – As the end of winter approaches, millions of Americans will face pricey vehicle repairs from rust damage caused by chemicals used to de-ice roadways. According to a new AAA survey, U.S. drivers paid an estimated $15.4 billion in rust repairs caused by de-icing methods over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually. AAA warns drivers, especially the 70 percent (150 million) who live in areas affected by snow and ice, to take action to prevent dangerous rust-related vehicle damage to brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other critical vehicle components.

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“While the application of de-icing salts and solutions is critical to keeping our nation’s roadways safe every winter, it’s important that drivers pay attention to warning signs that their vehicle may be suffering from rust-related damage,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This can be much more than a cosmetic issue, it can also create serious safety issues for drivers by impacting brake lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and electrical connections.”

AAA strongly urges drivers who experience any of the following vehicle malfunctions to immediately move the vehicle off the road to a safe location and have it towed to a trusted repair facility.

  • In-dash warning lights for brakes and other critical systems.
  • A “spongey” or soft feeling when applying pressure to the brake pedal.
  • An unusually loud exhaust sound or the smell of fumes in or around the vehicle.
  • The prominent smell of gasoline or diesel fuel when the vehicle is parked or running.

In recent years, many state and local transportation departments have shifted from using rock salt to liquid de-icers to combat ice and snow on the roadways. These newer alternatives are more effective than traditional salt because they can be applied before a snowstorm, have a lower freezing point and melt ice and snow faster. However, these same characteristics can be even more damaging to vehicles since the chemicals remain in liquid form longer and are more likely to coat components and seep into cracks and crevices where corrosion can accelerate.

“In the last five years, 22 million U.S. drivers have experienced rust damage to their cars due to salt and liquid de-icers,” continued Nielsen. “In addition to the safety risk, repairs to fix these problems are often costly, averaging almost $500 per occurrence.”

While some rust damage is unavoidable, AAA recommends drivers take the following preventative steps in order to reduce the possibility of vehicle damage:

  • When possible, limit driving immediately before, during and after winter storms when salt and de-icing solutions are being applied and are at their highest concentrations.
  • Frequently wash your vehicle, paying particular attention to the undercarriage. This will loosen, dissolve and neutralize road salts. Many drive-through car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.
  • Always use a high-quality car wash solution, not a household dish detergent that will strip the wax from your vehicle.
  • Repair any body damage and touch up paint scratches and chips that expose bare metal which could lead to rust.
  • Before the start of winter, thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle prior to the start of winter and apply a coat of wax to protect the finish.
  • Give the entire vehicle and undercarriage one last cleaning in the spring. Any deposits left over from winter can continue to cause corrosion year-round if not properly removed.

Pothole damage is another concern for drivers, as snow and ice melt and roadways begin to crumble. A new AAA survey found that nearly 30 million U.S. drivers experienced pothole damage significant enough to require repair in 2016, with repair bills ranging from under $250 to more than $1000. To address this issue, AAA believes that more funding is needed to keep pace with critical repairs and ongoing maintenance of the nation’s roadways.

When pothole or rust damage occurs, it is imperative to choose a reputable repair facility. The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network includes nearly 7,000 facilities which have met AAA’s high standards, including, certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits such as priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Most U.S. Drivers Leery of Auto Repair Shops

December 1st, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA advises that finding a trusted mechanic is more important than ever

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 1, 2016) – According to a new AAA survey, two out of three U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general – citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence. However, the survey also reveals that the majority (64 percent) of U.S. drivers have singled out an auto repair shop that they do trust, suggesting that consumers have prioritized finding a reliable mechanic in an industry with imperfect reputation. AAA urges all drivers to identify a reputable repair facility well before one is needed.

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“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers – 75 million motorists in total – have yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”

With today’s cars collecting a variety of data about the health of the vehicle, drivers need a trusted repair facility more than ever. “Connected cars” with built-in diagnostic capabilities can alert drivers to vehicle trouble and help repair shops quickly and accurately address issues. Unsurprisingly, given concerns around data security, AAA found that the majority of U.S. drivers want the ability to direct their vehicle’s data to the repair shop of their choice – the trusted facility with whom they have built a relationship.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • The top reasons that U.S. drivers do not trust repair shops are:
    • Recommending unnecessary services (76 percent)
    • Overcharging for services (73 percent)
    • Negative past experiences (63 percent)
    • Concerns that the work will not be done correctly (49 percent)
  • Older drivers are more likely to trust auto repair shops than younger drivers.
    • Baby Boomers are twice as likely than younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with one-in-five reporting they “totally trust” the industry.
    • Baby Boomers (76 percent) are also more likely to have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust compared to Millennials (55 percent) and Gen-Xers (56 percent).

“As a service to our members and the general public, the AAA Approved Auto Repair program is designed to help drivers identify trustworthy repair shops,” Nielsen continued. “Facilities meet AAA standards by undergoing a rigorous investigation conducted by Automotive Service Excellence certified inspectors, including quarterly inspections and annual re-certifications that ensures high professional standards for technical training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Plus, if something does go wrong, AAA steps in to arbitrate any issues on behalf of its members.”

To find a trustworthy auto repair shop, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Look for a repair shop before issues occur. Ask family and friends for recommendations and visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Research potential repair shops and find out how long they have been in business. This can be a good indicator of shop quality. Also, look into how they deal with consumer complaints. The Better Business Bureau, State Department of Consumer Affairs or attorney general’s office can provide those complaints.
  • Visit the auto repair shop for a minor job such as an oil change or tire rotation. While waiting, talk with shop employees and inspect the shop’s appearance, amenities, technician credentials, and parts and labor warranty. If you find the service to be good, stick with them. Build a relationship with the technician so they can get to know you and your vehicle.

AAA’s Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program was created more than 35 years ago and includes nearly 7,000 facilities across North America. Once a shop meets AAA’s high standards, including certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, it becomes part of the AAR program where it’s re-inspected annually and monitored for customer satisfaction. AAA members receive several unique benefits by selecting an AAR facility, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts on repairs, free inspections, AAA assistance with dispute resolutions and more.

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Julie HallFourth of July travel volume will be highest on record with 43 million Americans traveling, five million more than Memorial Day

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 27, 2016) – AAA projects nearly 43 million Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend. This represents the highest fourth of July travel volume on record and five million more travelers compared to Memorial Day weekend. The holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.

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“Spurred by the lowest gas prices since 2005, more people than ever are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO. “Whether they’re traveling by car, plane, train, or cruise ship, it will be exciting to see so many Americans celebrating our nation’s freedom with their friends and family over the long holiday weekend.”

U.S. drivers have saved about $20 billion on gasoline so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, which has made travel more affordable than in recent years. A more confident consumer and rising economic activity also are offsetting a cooling labor market to help boost holiday travel.

“We are well on our way for 2016 to be a record-breaking year for summertime travel,” continued Doney. “This trend is welcome news for the travel industry and a sign that Americans are taking to our nation’s highways and skies like never before.”

Low gas prices driving increase in auto travel this Independence Day
Eighty-four percent of holiday travelers – more than 36 million people – will drive to their Independence Day destinations, an increase of 1.2 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 2.2 percent over last year, with 3.3 million Americans taking to the skies this Independence Day.

Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase two percent to 3.3 million travelers. Most of those travelers are expected to fill cruise cabins and AAA’s holiday cruise bookings are 35 percent higher than last Independence Day.

Drivers to pay lowest Independence Day gas prices in more than a decade
Low gas prices are motivating millions of Americans to travel this Independence Day. Despite recent seasonal increases, gasoline prices remain well below recent years. The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.31, which is 47 cents less than one year ago. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices since 2005.

Airfares and hotel rates lower than last Independence Day
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be nine percent less this Independence Day, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $207. Hotel costs have fallen slightly compared to last Independence Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $185, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $144 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $75, six percent more than last year.

More than 370,000 Independence Day motorists to request roadside assistance
AAA expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists during the Independence Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a road trip. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Download the AAA Mobile app before an Independence Day getaway
Before setting out for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via TripTik Travel Planner. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2016 Independence Day holiday travel forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

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  • AAA surveyed its network of AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities to identify the maintenance items frequently missed by motorists.
  • Eighty-eight percent of repair shops find that drivers miss brake fluid maintenance, but only 35 percent find vehicles are behind on their oil changes.

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 2, 2014) – Changes in maintenance schedules due to advanced vehicle and fluid technology have changed vehicle service needs. Most motorists manage oil-change services appropriately but miss other critical maintenance items, according to a survey of AAA’s nationwide network of Approved Auto Repair shops.

Eighty-eight percent of repair shops find that motorists frequently skip brake fluid service. Other commonly missed items noted by repair providers include proper battery checks (82 percent), transmission fluid maintenance (81 percent), tire maintenance (78 percent) and engine coolant (77 percent).

“The expansion of onboard maintenance reminder systems – which often cover oil-change services – appears to help consumers stay on track with oil maintenance,” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Many important services that are not typically detailed by those systems are often missed by consumers.”

In the past, vehicle maintenance needs were relatively simple and consistent across automakers. Today’s engineering advancements require less maintenance at less frequent intervals. Examples include oil-change intervals now recommended at 5,000 to 10,000 or more miles, transmission fluids designed to last 100,000 miles and sealed batteries that never need to have fluid added. Even with these advancements, vehicles still require routine services that are important to maintaining the performance and safety of the vehicle.

“Poor maintenance of brake fluid is a critical safety concern. All brake fluid attracts moisture, which can cause the fluid to perform poorly. Lack of maintenance can lead to contaminated fluid, corroded parts and increased stopping distance,” says Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “Motorists may not be aware of maintenance requirements for brake fluid, or their vehicle’s manufacturer may not recommend a specific interval for replacing the fluid.”

To ensure your vehicle is properly maintained, AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Read the maintenance requirements set by your car’s manufacturer in the owner’s manual. There is no longer a “standard” maintenance schedule for vehicle services – including brake fluid. Each automaker has different requirements, making your owner’s manual the most accurate resource.
  • Inspect brakes as recommended in your owner’s manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, pulling, noises while braking or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems promptly. Check your owner’s manual to see if the brake fluid should be changed at a specific interval. If no interval is specified for brake fluid service, AAA suggests flushing the system every two years or anytime the brake system is serviced.
  • Follow the recommendations of in-vehicle maintenance reminders, as they have the best information to determine maintenance needs for your vehicle because they account for how you actually drive. However, many reminder systems do not specifically cover maintenance operations that need to be performed on a time or mileage basis – such as brake fluid and coolant flushes or timing-belt replacement.
  • Enlist the help of a trusted repair provider to keep vehicle maintenance on track. Quality repair shops will help motorists schedule and budget for necessary maintenance services. Find a quality repair provider through AAA’s Approved repair network by visiting AAA.com.

Additional information on AAA’s recommendations for proper vehicle maintenance is available on the AAA Newsroom and AAA’s YouTube channel. AAA’s network of more than 7,000 Approved Auto Repair providers is listed on AAA.com.  AAA members can receive a free maintenance inspection anytime they have work performed at any of these locations.

AAA continually conducts proprietary research to better understand implications of automotive technology, design and functionality for consumers.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppFueled by a drop in fourth quarter gas prices and increased fuel economy, average cost for sedans decreases 2.7 percent to 59.2 cents per mile

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 9, 2014) – AAA released the results of its annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study today, revealing a 2.7 percent decrease in the cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost fell 1.64 cents to 59.2 cents per mile, or $8,876 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

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“Despite increases in maintenance and registration fees, American motorists are experiencing an overall decrease in the cost to own and operate a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “A large decrease in fuel costs, and lower tire, insurance and depreciation expenses are saving owners more than one and a half cents on every mile they drive.”

The findings of the 2014 ‘Your Driving Costs’ study include:

Based on Driving 15,000 miles annually

Small

Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

SUV 4WD

Minivan

Cost Per Mile

46.4 cents

58.9 cents

72.2 cents

59.2 cents

73.6 cents

65.0 cents

Cost Per Year

$6,957

$8,839

$10,831

$8,876

$11,039

$9,753

In-depth findings of this year’s study, including a breakdown of specific costs by category of vehicle and various annual mileages, are contained in the ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure which is available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded at the AAA Newsroom.

Nielsen continued, “The true cost of vehicle ownership involves more than the sticker price and what you pay at the pump. Before you make any vehicle purchase, it is important to determine ownership and operational costs and compare them to your current and future financial situation.” To assist consumers in determining their individual driving costs, the AAA ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure contains a worksheet that can be filled out and personalized for a specific area, driver and vehicle.

Fuel Costs Down more than 10 Percent

Fuel costs had the single largest percentage decrease from 2013 to 2014, declining 10.04 percent to 13 cents per mile. The average cost of regular grade fuel fell 5.96 percent, from $3.486 to $3.278 per gallon. At the same time, vehicle redesigns and improved power train technologies that take into account higher federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards has the effect of improving the average fuel economy of sedans used in the study.  Fuel costs in the 2014 study were calculated using the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Maintenance Costs Up 1.81 Percent

This year maintenance costs increased nearly two percent to 5.06 per mile on average for sedan owners. AAA’s estimates are based upon the cost to maintain a vehicle and perform needed repairs for five years and 75,000 miles, including labor expenses, replacement part prices and the purchase of an extended warranty policy.  For 2014, some vehicles had lower costs due to longer service intervals or reduced labor times, while others experienced an increase in labor times and/or part prices that led to a rise in maintenance costs. AAA experts also identified an increasing number of vehicles requiring low-viscosity semi- or full-synthetic motor oils, which cost more than conventional oils but provide better fuel economy, added engine protection and allow for longer oil change intervals.

Tire Costs Decrease Three Percent
After several years of increases due rising costs for raw materials, energy and transportation, tire prices for 2014 have decreased three percent to 0.97 cents per mile. The decrease can be credited to two main factors; some redesigned sedans now come equipped with less expensive tires and some tire prices have declined.

Insurance Costs Decrease 0.58 Percent

In 2014, average insurance costs remain essentially unchanged at an average annual cost of $1,023, compared to $1,029 last year. Insurance rates vary widely by driver and driving record, issuing company and geographical region. AAA insurance cost estimates are based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record and for 2014 this group saw a negligible premium decrease. Premium quotes, covering seven states across the country and insurance companies from five AAA clubs, showed minor declines for most small and medium sedans, with large cars having small increases.

Depreciation Costs Fall 1.71 Percent

After a small rise in depreciation last year, the tide has turned and depreciation decreased for 2014 to $3,510 per year from $3,571. While the numbers are improved in all three sedan categories, they are particularly strong in the medium-size area where several very desirable redesigned models have been introduced.

64th Year of ‘Your Driving Costs’ Study

AAA has published ‘Your Driving Costs’ since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

The ‘Your Driving Costs’ study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary. See AAA’s 2013 ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ginnie PritchettAAA, the nation’s largest motor club, shares useful tips for drivers during Car Care Month

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 1, 2013) – October is Car Care Month and AAA is reminding drivers about the importance of properly maintaining their vehicles. There are a few simple things every driver can do to make sure their car is ready for the road.

“Learning how to handle common maintenance issues is beneficial to anyone who gets behind the wheel,” said John Nielsen, managing director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Proper maintenance can extend the life of your vehicle and help prevent costly repairs.”

Below are four simple car care practices AAA recommends every motorist perform on a regular basis:

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Check the Air and Wear of Your Tires

83% of American do not know how to properly inflate their tires, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. The pressure on all tires—including the spare— should be checked monthly, with a quality gauge when the tires are cold. Proper pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker most often located on the driver-side door jamb. Do not use the pressure stamped on the sidewall of the tire. Note that the pressure levels on some cars are different for the front and rear tires.

Check the tread depth on each tire by placing a quarter upside down in the tread grooves. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. Also, look for uneven tire wear when checking the tread. This can be an indication of suspension, wheel balance or alignment problems that need to be addressed.

Every driver at some point deals with a flat tire. Click here for a step-by-step video that shows how to prepare for and repair or replace a flat tire.

Ensure Your Car Battery is Properly Charged

Extreme temperatures break down car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals, leading to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded without warning.

At every oil change, check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. Disconnecting the cables to clean the hidden areas where they contact the battery terminals is the best way to remove external corrosion.  Most car batteries have a three to five year service life, depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns. If your battery is getting old, have it tested at a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop or by using AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if it needs to be replaced.

Keep Those Wipers Working

Inspect the wiper blades monthly. Check to see if they are worn, cracked or rigid with age.  Damaged wiper blades won’t adequately remove debris, compromising the driver’s vision and safety. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain, and ozone.  Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and a replacement is needed.  Click here to learn more.

The windshield washer fluid reservoir should be checked monthly. Top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects or other debris. In winter, use a solution that will not freeze at low temperatures. Also, test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.

Work with a Local Repair Shop You Trust

Every car requires routine maintenance and repair. The best time to find a mechanic or auto repair shop is before you need one. Start by asking friends and family for recommendations of repair shops and mechanics. Visit www.aaa.com/repair to find nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, take your vehicle to your top candidate shop for routine maintenance. While there, talk with the employees and take a look at the facility and consider the following questions:

  • Does the facility have up to date equipment?
  • Were you offered a written estimate?
  • Does the shop offer a nationwide warranty on parts and labor?
  • Are customer areas clean, comfortable and well organized?

Click here for more on finding the right automotive repair shop for you.

When having your car serviced, follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule to avoid under- or over-maintaining your vehicle.  Oil changes, tire rotations, changing transmission fluid, and replacing an air filter are the types of routine maintenance recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. The maintenance schedule for these services and more can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ginnie PritchettAs summer travel revs up, nation’s largest motor club cautions drivers of dangers on the open road if not properly prepared

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 29, 2013) – More than 31 million Americans kicked off the summer travel season with a road trip Memorial Day weekend, but plans were damped for approximately a quarter of a million motorists that AAA  needed to rescue at the roadside.  AAA expects between the major summer holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day to aid over eight million motorists, and cautions drivers that auto maintenance is key to avoiding summertime travel breakdowns.

“The best way to avoid a breakdown during a trip is to ensure your car is properly maintained before hitting the road,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “But unexpected breakdowns can still occur so for your safety and security, and that of your passengers, be sure to have access to a roadside assistance provider like AAA.”

AAA recommends that motorists perform the following maintenance tasks before hitting the road. An acronym of S.A.F.E.T.R.I.P. is used to help motorists remember these essential tasks.

Service your Battery

AAA will assist nearly 1.6 million motorists with dead batteries during the summer driving season—replacing more than 500,000 batteries at the roadside. Summer heat breaks down car batteries internally and accelerates the rate of corrosion on the terminals. Both conditions can lead to insufficient electrical power being available and leave a motorist stranded without warning. Depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns, most car batteries have a three to five year service life. If your battery is more than three years old, have it tested by a professional technician to help avoid unexpected trouble.

Air Conditioning Check
A vehicle without air conditioning can be a hot and uncomfortable environment for travelers during the summer months. Automotive air conditioning systems do not require routine maintenance, but a system that is operating marginally is more likely to fail in hot weather. If you have noticed a decrease in cooling capability, have your air conditioning system examined by a qualified technician before setting out on a trip.

Fluids for Windshield Washer/Wipers

Rain, insects, grime and other debris on a windshield will compromise the driver’s vision and safety. The life of a rubber wiper insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight and rain. If your wipers leave streaks or cannot clear the windshield in one swipe they should be replaced. Also, check the windshield washer fluid level and top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris. Be sure to test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.

Emergency Roadside Kit

While preventative measures go a long way toward minimizing breakdowns, unexpected vehicle problems can still arise. AAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit every season. The kit should include a mobile phone and car charger; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; extra snacks/food for your travelers and any pets; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.

Tire Inflation and Condition

“Roughly one million drivers will call AAA for help with a flat tire during the summer travel season, and many of those problems could be avoided with a quick tire inspection,” said Nielsen. “Begin every tire inspection with a pressure check when the tires are cold and the car has not been driven recently.” Use a quality gauge to make sure all five tires are inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—this can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker usually attached to the driver’s door jamb, or sometimes inside the gas cap door. Properly inflated tires increase safety and fuel economy, which will reduce fuel costs during a trip. Finally, inspect the tread depth and overall condition of the tires. Worn tires in need of replacement are much more likely to suffer punctures and other problems.

Regular Maintenance

This summer, AAA will remedy over half of motorists’ car problems at the roadside and get them back on the go. However, an estimated 3.5 million drivers will suffer more significant troubles and need towing to a place of repair. If it’s almost time for scheduled maintenance, have your car serviced before a trip. If it has been some time since the vehicle last saw the inside of a repair shop, consider having it thoroughly inspected by a qualified technician who can identify potential problems before they put a damper on any travel plans.

Inspect under the Hood: Belts, Hoses and Fluids

Replace accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump. Check the engine coolant level, along with that of other important under hood fluids such as the engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. A low fluid level could indicate a leak or other problem that should be checked out by a professional technician.

Prepare and Plan Ahead
Part of the fun of taking a road trip is planning it. Chart out driving routes and, when possible, reserve your accommodations in advance. Be prepared for busy roads during the popular travel times   and, if possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid traffic. For increased safety, assign a passenger as the designated texter/caller to avoid distracted driving. AAA recommends drivers allow plenty of time to reach their destinations, and stop in a safe location every 100 miles or two hours to avoid drowsy or fatigued driving.

If any part of the road trip vehicle preparation process seems overwhelming, AAA can help consumers identify quality auto repair shops to assist in the maintenance and repair of their vehicles. AAA offers the Approved Auto Repair program as a free public service. Repair facilities approved by AAA meet and maintain stringent standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Motorists can look for the Approved Auto Repair sign at local shops, or search for a nearby AAA-approved shops online at AAA.com/Repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppIncrease in maintenance, insurance and fuel drive up average cost for sedans to $9,122 yearly, 60.8 cents per mile

ORLANDO, Fla., (April 16, 2013) – AAA released the results of its annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study today, revealing a 1.96 percent increase in the cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost rose 1.17 cents to 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

“Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This year, changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the increase to just over 60 cents a mile.”

The findings of the 2013 ‘Your Driving Costs’ study include:

Based on Driving 15,000 miles annually

Small

Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

SUV 4WD

Minivan

Cost Per Mile

46.4 cents

61.0 cents

75.0 cents

60.8 cents

77.3 cents

65.3 cents

Cost Per Year

$6,967

$9,151

$11,248

$9,122

$11,599

$9,795

Additional Resources

In-depth findings of this year’s study, including a breakdown of specific costs by category of vehicle and various annual mileages, are contained in the ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure which is available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded in the additional resources bar.

Nielsen continued, “Before you make any vehicle purchase, it is important to determine ownership and operational costs and compare them to your current and future financial situation.” To assist consumers in determining their individual driving costs, the AAA ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure contains a worksheet that can be filled out and personalized for a specific area, driver and vehicle.

Maintenance Costs Up 11.26 Percent

The costs associated with maintaining a vehicle had the single largest percentage increase from 2012 to 2013, growing by 11.26 percent to 4.97 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. AAA’s estimates are based upon the cost to maintain a vehicle and perform needed repairs for five years and 75,000 miles including labor expenses, replacement part prices and the purchase of an extended warranty policy.  Driving the increase in maintenance costs is significant increases in labor and part costs for some models and a major increase in the price of extended warranty policies due to high loss ratios by underwriters.

Fuel Costs Up 1.93 Percent

Gasoline prices were relatively stable compared to the prior year, leading to a minimal fuel cost increase of 1.93 percent to 14.45 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. The average cost of regular grade fuel (used by most of the study vehicles) actually rose 3.84 percent, from $3.357 to $3.486 per gallon. However, several vehicles in the ‘Your Driving Costs’ study had small improvements in their fuel economy ratings which partially offset the fuel cost increase. Fuel costs in the 2013 study were calculated using the national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2012.

Tire Costs Remain Unchanged
The cost of tires did not change from 2012 to 2013, remaining at one cent per mile on average for sedan owners. The stable price is attributed to a leveling off of past increased costs for raw materials, energy and transportation from factories to distributors across the country.

Insurance Costs Up 2.76 Percent

Average insurance costs for sedans rose 2.76 percent (or $28) to $1029 annually. Insurance rates vary widely by driver and driving record, issuing company and geographical region. AAA insurance cost estimates are based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record. Quotes from five AAA clubs and insurance companies representing seven states showed across-the-board modest increases for all sedan sizes, with large cars having less of an increase than small- and medium-size sedans.

Depreciation Costs Rise .78 Percent

After seeing a drop in 2012, depreciation costs were up slightly in 2013, increasing .78 percent to $3,571 a year. This change may be a consequence of recovering new vehicle sales, resulting in more used cars available in the marketplace and thus the softening of the resale value of clean older models.

63rd Year of ‘Your Driving Costs’ Study

AAA has published ‘Your Driving Costs’ since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

The ‘Your Driving Costs’ study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary. See AAA’s 2013 ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA cautions drivers to prepare for winter driving before the flakes start to fall

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 18, 2012) –   Nearly one-quarter of weather related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement,  resulting in more than 1,300 deaths and 116,800 people injured annually, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.  With AccuWeather’s winter forecast calling for above-normal snowfall in some parts of the country and the first official day of winter December 21, AAA recommends motorists brush up on winter driving techniques before the weather outside turns frightful.

Additional Resources

Prepare Your Vehicle for Use in Ice and Snow

Before winter conditions hit, it’s important to prepare your car for harsh winter weather. AAA’s Winter Car Care Checklist can help determine a vehicle’s winter maintenance needs. Many of the items on the list can be inspected by a car owner in less than an hour, but others should be performed by a certified technician. The AAA Winter Car Care Checklist can be found here.

Drive Distraction Free

It is also important when driving in winter conditions to drive distraction-free and in the right frame of mind. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.  AAA recommends if you are with a passenger, enlist the passenger’s help to carry out activities that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.

Do Not Use Cruise Control and Avoid Tailgating

Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This extra time will allow for extra braking distance should a sudden stop become necessary.  If driving on a four-lane highway, stay in the clearest lane; avoid changing lanes and driving over built-up snow. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery (wet, ice, snow, sand) surface; not using cruise control will allow you to respond instantly when you lift your foot off the accelerator.

Know When to Brake and When to Steer

Some driving situations require abrupt action to avoid a crash or collision and in winter conditions the decision to steer or brake can have very different outcomes. When travelling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in wintery conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop.  In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.

However, sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further head and increased following and stopping distances.  Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely. Shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections are areas where ice is likely to form first and will be the most slippery. It is important to adjust your braking habits as road conditions change.

Stay in Control Through a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps:

  • Continue to look and steer in the direction the car needs to go.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

If you find your vehicle stuck in the snow, AAA members needing assistance can request roadside rescue at (800) AAA-HELP.  Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance.  For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile. These tips and additional information on driving in winter conditions can be found in the AAA brochure How to Go on Ice and Snow online.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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